Kurtz: Expectations For Obama “Out Of Control”


Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat that had a heavy focus on media coverage and bias during the presidential campaign. Some excerpts:

Reston, Va.: Howie, thank you, thank you, thank you for today’s column.

I was flabbergasted last week when I saw two Newsweek.com headlines asking if Obama could save the print media and capitalism itself.

It may be that putting Barack on a pedestal of monumental expectations may spur him to greatness, but it may also set him up as the disappointer-in-chief.

If Chris Matthews (and other fawning “journalists”) wants to do all he can to help Barack succeed, shouldn’t he be tamping down expectations as soon as humanly possible?

Howard Kurtz: I do think the expectations for Obama are out of control, that no human being, no matter how smart and talented, could fulfill them. I think the president-elect and his team recognize this dilemma. In the final weeks of the campaign and since the election, we’ve heard him emphasize how there are great challenges ahead, it’s going to take time to tackle them, and otherwise signaling that no one should expect instant results

Shepherd Park, Washington, D.C.: Howard,

I’ve been thinking about the charges of media bias in favor of President-elect Obama, such as Deborah Howell’s column last week. When you’re relying on a simple numbers-analysis, isn’t there a distinct possibility that one candidate is doing and saying more newsworthy things and deservedly gets more ink and better placement?

And if one candidate has a better, or at least more positive, message than the other candidate, it seems that would lead to more positive coverage than a candidate who is presenting a more negative, or attack-driven, message.

It seems to be that in these cases, presenting “balanced” coverage would actually be biased against the candidate who “deserves” the better coverage.

Howard Kurtz: Not in a campaign. One candidate may be more positive, more effective, more interesting, and of course that’s going to be reflected in the coverage. But it’s no excuse for bias, and no excuse for one candidate to get MORE coverage than his rival.

Howard in Cincinnati: Hi, Howard

Hope to squeeze this one in…

I used to watch MSNBC a lot, even though I am a Republican. I even like Chris Matthews and his shtick. But Keith Olbermann’s disdain (to be polite, as it is stronger than that) for all things Bush or McCain made him unwatchable. And his love affair with Obama made me urge him to get a room.

He almost makes the people at Fox News look as if they are Edward R. Murrow.

My question: I can’t watch him on Sunday Night football any more. His credibility has gone — and he is a terrific and knowledgeable sports guy.

Do people at NBC Sports worry about this?

Howard Kurtz: I think Olbermann the sportscaster is in a different ballpark, so to speak, than Olbermann the political pundit. And even though some Olbermann fans think he’s gotten too shrill and predictable on “Countdown”–hence the killer Ben Affleck parody–he’s made great progress on the ratings front, which is why MSNBC last week tore up his contract and gave him a new four-year, $30-million deal.